Nearly half of Londoners are worried about living in city due to air pollution

Londoners welcome T-Charge, as BHF warns of dangers of air pollution for capital’s heart health

Nearly half (45%) of Londoners are worried about living in the city due to dangerous levels of air pollution, according to a new poll from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The statistics reveal that 81% of Londoners believe the current air pollution levels are putting their health at risk and over a third are put off running (37%) or cycling (38%) in the city because of the potentially deadly air.

The BHF is today highlighting the need for bold action to clean up London’s air, as estimates show that globally, 80 per cent of all premature deaths from air pollution are caused by heart and circulatory disease.

Research shows that both long-term and short-term exposure to air pollution can make existing heart conditions worse and can increase the risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke amongst vulnerable groups.

The poll also found:

• 94% of people in the capital think cleaning up London’s current level of air pollution is important
• Nearly a third (28%) of Londoners don’t want to sit outside in the city
• One in five (19%) Londoners are put off shopping on London High Streets because of air pollution
• 17% of Londoners are put off visiting local parks
• And 12% said the pollution puts them off visiting London’s iconic landmarks

On Monday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduces a new daily Toxicity charge or ‘T-charge’ in central London in order to reduce dangerous fumes from polluting vehicles and make London’s air safer.

The air pollution in London has breached legal limits for years and it’s estimated that in 2010 there were nearly 9,500 deaths across London associated with air pollution exposure3, many of which would have been caused by heart and circulatory conditions.

The charge will affect vehicles every week day that don’t meet the minimum exhaust emission standard, or were registered pre-2006.

The BHF’s poll found that over 70% of Londoners support the daily charge of £10 which will operate on top of, and during the same times, as the congestion charge.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Dangerous levels of air pollution in London are putting the heart health of the general public – particularly those with heart disease – at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.

“We urgently need to protect Londoners from inhaling deadly air – particularly from small particles in diesel fumes, which our research shows increase the risk of a potentially deadly cardiac event.

“It’s extremely concerning that London’s toxic air could now force people to consider relocating, or avoid being outside.

“This is a wakeup call to how concerned the people of London are about the air they breathe. The Mayor’s toxicity charge is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to the introduction of a full Ultra Low Emissions Zone in 2019 which will help to further clean up London’s air.”
Air pollution contributes to around 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year, many of which are from heart attack and stroke.

BHF researchers have found that tiny particles in diesel and petrol fumes can damage our heart and circulatory systems.

These particles stop blood vessels relaxing and contracting, which increases the risk of clots, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. However, worryingly nearly half (44%) of Londoners are unaware of the danger air pollution poses to the heart.

Find out how the BHF is fighting back against heart disease at bhf.org.uk

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